In high school, I suffered from a disheartening case of anxiety. It basically developed from the pressure of being a teenager in modern society - trying to balance my schoolwork, my social life, pleasing my family, and just trying to figure out who I am and what I wanted to do with my life. I felt like I had no time for growing as an individual, and the thought that I would never find myself brought on terrible panic attacks that usually occurred in the middle of the night. Because of this, my sleep suffered and I found it difficult to feel at ease because I was always so tired, which inevitably made the problem ten times worse. I felt like I couldn’t talk about it with my friends or family, in fear of looking like I was fishing for attention, so I kept it all bottled up. It’s a horrifying cycle that I think a lot of teenagers deal with, at least to a certain extent. Some cases are worse than mine - and some even not so bad - but honestly, for the people going through this type of trauma, it’s all the same. I hate it when people try to disregard the presence of anxiety in someone because it may not occur as frequently as they expect it to. A panic attack is not a fun experience at all, and it can leave you feeling absolutely drained, alone, and depressed. And it’s actually quite detrimental not only to your mental health, but your social & physical health as well. For instance, I began to actually have seizures, to which the doctors claimed were from sleep deprivation. It’s scary for me to think about. However, I want anyone and everyone who may suffer from anxiety to know: it get’s better.
It sounds cliche and unlikely. Believe me, I’ve been there. Anxiety crippled almost every aspect of my life, from my social interactions - to my drive to do anything at all. I became a hateful person and began to lash out at my family and peers as if I was constantly PMSing. I held a reputation of a straight-up bitch, and the worst part is, I was actually proud of it. It was my security blanket - a wall that no one could break down. I was cold hearted and I am sure that I lost the respect of many people. I always kept the wall up, and I was never happy, always having something to complain about. I couldn’t get close to people and I lost the chance to build relationships with a lot of great individuals. Then, I would sit in my room every weekend wondering why no one ever invited me to go out and do anything. I wondered why people didn’t like me, or even slightly cared about me. Which - of course - made the depression and the anxiety worse. High school wasn’t fun, but like I said: it gets better.
Still don’t believe me? Well here’s this. Around the summer before my senior year, when the stresses of school faded away and I was spending a lot of my time by myself, I sort of started to realize what I was doing to myself. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I needed to train myself not to bitch out that freshman kid who cut me in the lunch line, or that girl who was walking too slow in the hallway. It didn’t happen all at once, but I started to choose my battles. I started to manage my time better, allowing me to get my schoolwork done in time. And the thing that really helped me turn things around, was I started asking people for help. I talked to my loved ones and my teachers more about what I was going through. Just having an outlet to rant or to confide and vent to someone helped me tremendously, and I became a happier person again. Sure, I still had those days where I was stressing about a deadline I needed to make, or where I felt lonely and sad, causing panic attacks. But anxiety is a part of me, and I kind of began to accept that. I no longer lived in fear of when the next panic attack would be, or if I would relapse and bring out the bitch-mode. I took it one day at a time, and although life wasn’t perfect or fair, and definitely not easy for me, I always tried to remind myself that tomorrow would be another day. I reminded myself that it get’s better.
After I graduated - a short time ago - I definitely hit rock bottom. I moved out of my parents house and into my fiance’s house, who had been my main supporter through my mess of a high-school-career. Although I had him with me all the time, he worked graveyard, so I sat in a dark room all day on the computer while he slept. It made me feel lonely and depressed. I didn’t have anything to do. I didn’t want to get a job because - of course - my anxiety made me feel like they would hire someone else over me because I wasn’t good enough, or if I got the job I would screw up and get fired. I had been to a couple interviews and never got a call, which didn’t make me feel all that great. Not only that, but I couldn’t really go anywhere because I wasn’t legally allowed to get my drivers license due to my seizures. I had nothing to look forward to - at this point in time, I hadn’t decided to go to college, because “I didn’t want to waste another four years of my life on a diploma I would never use.” The panic attacks came back, and I felt like it would never get better.
One day, I called my mom and asked her to come get me so we could hang out & talk. I needed to tell someone about how I’d been feeling, and she was the only person I felt could really help. I had confided in my fiance, but the situation was out of his control, because he was busy working and such, which I understood. My mom and I talked for about 6 hours straight. We came to the conclusion that I needed a hobby or something to distract me. I couldn’t think of anything, because nothing sparked my interest - until she suggested that I maybe attend college for a term and see how I liked it (keep in mind, I’m not trying to tell you to go to college or anything, I’m just explaining what helped me overcome my personal situation). At first I was wary of the idea, but after a bit of thought, I was open to it. After even more thought - I decided I wanted to major in communication and get into journalism, so I could write political rants or help people overcome situations I have had experience with. I found my niche, I had something to look forward to, and most importantly: things got better!
My story - just like everyone elses - is unique, and you may not be able to relate to every aspect of it. Everyone will have to battle their own dragons to reach a point of personal growth and improvement. But no matter how hard it is right now, or how much you want to give up, remember: it get’s better!
Written by Alexis Selzler.